Letters [March 2009]
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2009:
Re “Estrogen supplements double cancer risk,” in the
January/February 2009 edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE: estrogen suppements
based on pregnant mares’ urine are not only harmful for women’s
health, but also cause women who take them to have a bad body odor.
They smell like horse urine. You can always tell when a woman is
taking the estrogen supplements because of the bad odor she has. If
you are anywhere within 10 feet of such a woman you can smell it.
If estrogen supplements make a woman stink, can they be any
good for her health? There are natural supplements that are safe and
good for the health. Horse urine is not something that people should
put in their bodies. People are not horses, and horse hormones are
an unnatural, biologically harmful substance for people.
Drugs that alter the hormonal balance of any species may
potentially change body odor, and as humans have widely varied
olfactory acuity, perhaps some people can detect at a sniff whether
others are taking hormones based on pregnant mare’s urine. However,
birth control drugs and post-menopausal estrogen supplements based on
pregnant mare’s urine have been sold in the U.S. since 1942, have
been among the most widely used and most controversial drugs for much
of this time, and amid the ongoing debate, this allegation, while
not entirely unheard of, has rarely been mentioned. The chief
concerns from a humane perspective are that the mares used in hormone
production typically have restricted movement for much of their
pregnancy, and that most of their foals go to slaughter, since
there is little other commercial interest in them.
Montcalm County sends animals to labs
I just found your website and was surprised that there was no
news of what is going on in Montcalm County, Michigan. Our shelter
has been giving live animals to R&R Research, of Howard City, for
over 30 years in exchange for carcass hauling. The contract recently
came up for renewal and the commissioners gave the dealer a six-month
extension. Meanwhile, a “blue ribbon panel” has been formed to
discuss shelter policies and procedures, pound seizure, etc. Who is
on this panel? Well, R&R Research owner Jim Woudenberg, for one.
as well as his own personal vet.
Concerned Citizens Coalition
The Montcalm County issue erupted into national view after
the January/February 2009 edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE went to press.
Montcalm is “one of only four counties in Michigan who release
animals to laboratories, the others being Gratiot, Mecosta, and
Osceola,” according to Ed Cutlip of the Grand Rapids news web site
MediaMouse.com. “There are only ten dealers in the country that
still obtain animals from shelters, including three in Michigan,”
adds Cutlip. Five other Michigan counties have since 2006 quit
providing animals to laboratory suppliers, including Eaton County in
Michigan Animal News founder Justine DePalma brought the
Montcalm County practices into local view with a March 2008
investigative report and a July 2008 interview of then newly hired
county animal control director Patricia Lentz. DePalma noted that
R&R Research was cited for alleged Animal Welfare Act violations in
2005 and 2006, including transporting dogs who were chained to a
livestock trailer. “In the 1990s,” DePalma added, “R&R was
ordered by the Michigan Attorney General to cease and desist after
discovering that R&R listed itself as an animal shelter in the yellow
Several leading national animal advocacy organizations have
become involved, including Friends of Animals. FoA is sponsoring a
presentation in Montcalm County by 2009 No Kill Conference organizer
Nathan Winograd on how to achieve no-kill animal control in a rural
community–a transition Winograd achieved in 2001 in Thompson
County, New York.
I saw on the news how Michael Vick will soon be asking to be
allowed back into the National Football League. I know a lot of
people are not happy to see Vick coming out of prison, with good
reason. And I’m thinking too that the NFL must be nervous about it
even if his talents are still there.
Michael Vick has been punished for his crime, but what if
society could ask him to prove himself further? What if, for
instance, he agreed to donate 2 to 5% of his future NFL income to
help abused and abandoned animals in shelters? Then we would have
created a win/win situation, as the income would help our cause,
and the NFL would not be as nervous about taking Vick back, and Vick
himself could further his career.
Michael Vick in December 2007 agreed to pay at least $928,000
restitution, perhaps more depending on the final reckoning of
expenses, to the eight animal rescue groups who handled the 47 pit
bull terriers that were impounded in connection with his arrest.
Dog who survived bizarre experiment is adopted
Perry, whose case was described in the July/August 2007
ANIMAL PEOPLE article “Pound Seizure shocks Sri Lanka,” and in
several follow-ups, was adopted on January 15, 2009. Perry was the
only dog who survived the butchery to which two vets subjected her,
Wussie, and Polly in the name of research. I was sad to let Perry
go, but she needed a loving home. Perry went off with her new
people happily, and has settled in well.
As a direct outcome of this horrible case, the Colombo
University Ethical Review Committee has drawn up guidelines on how to
protect animals used for research. With much input from many
experts, both local and overseas, the document is now being
191 Trinco Street
Kandy, Sri Lanka
How to euthanize puppies & kittens
A puppy I took to my veterinarian was recently diagnosed with
“telescoping intestine,” a lethal abnormality in development. The
vet recommended immediate euthanasia. I reluctantly agreed. I
wanted to hold the puppy while he was euthanized, but the vet
tech told me that this was not possible, because they had to hold
him down to euthanize him. That didn’t sound right, so I asked more
Finally, to their obvious distress, the vet divulged that
their standard method for euthanizing tiny puppies (and kittens) is
to inject the euthanasia drug directly into the newborn’s heart.
Horrified, I asked if that caused a heart attack, because heart
attacks are horribly painful, and they assured me it is all over
I asked if puppies screamed when this was done to them, and
they sadly admitted that fact, but again assured me it was the best
thing for the puppy.
I brought my tiny puppy home. He died on his own a few hours
later, with me at his side, in a safe warm place, without terror.
Later, tormented by the thought of hundreds or thousands of
newborn puppies and kittens every year experiencing this excruciating
and terrifying end, I called my vet and asked him if I found myself
in this situation again, if I paid extra, could I get my puppy
anesthetized before they jabbed him in the heart with a needle. My
vet agreed. He said the puppy could be placed inside an
anesthesia mask and would breathe in enough gas to become sedated. I
asked why he had not offered that option. I got no answer.
What sickened me is that I had to ask for this humane
service. This should be standard.
Ogdensburg, N.Y. & Napanee, Ontario
The current edition of the American Veterinary Medical
Association Guidelines on Euthanasia (2007) states, following every
edition since at least 1993, “Intracardiac injection must only be
used if the animal is heavily sedated, unconscious, or
anesthetized.” No exceptions are made for animals of any age, size,
We asked shelter consultant and euthanasia instructor Doug
Fakkema, of Charleston, South Carolina, to comment.
“The experience Ms. Follett describes does not surprise me,”
Fakkema responded. “Sadly,” despite the AVMA guidelines, “there
is no euthanasia standard of practice in veterinary medicine. Since
there is little if any information given on the subject in veterinary
school, it is up to the veterinarian to learn how to euthanize after
they graduate. They are typically taught how to euthanize in their
first practice experience– usually by a vet who learned how to do it
in his or her first practice.
“There is of course no federal veterinary practice act,”
Fakkema continued, “and I have never seen a state veterinary
practice act that prohibits intracardiac administration of anything,
including sodium pentobarbital. Veterinarians are usually exempt
from animal shelter euthanasia regulations, so that in states that
prohibit intracardiac injections in animal shelters, such as
California and Ohio, the prohibition does not apply to licensed
veterinarians in private practice.
The best option for euthanizing very young puppies and
kittens, Fakkema said, “would be an intraperitoneal injection. In
my experience, 200 milligrams (1/2 cc) [of sodium pentabarbital] is
sufficient to produce rapid and painless sedation, anesthesia, coma
and death.” The second best option, Fakkema believes, “would be an
intramuscular injection of ketamine/xylazine (or similar) to
anesthetize the animal, then intracardiac injection with sodium
The distant third best option, said Fakkema, “would be to
anesthetize the animal with isoflurane, then administer sodium
pentobarbital via intracardiac injection before the animal wakes up.
The latter must be done quickly,” Fakkema cautioned, “as the
effect of the gas anesthetic is very short.”
The print edition of the January/ February 2009 edition of
ANIMAL PEOPLE in the article “Trying to help animals in Gaza”
mentioned “the January 19, 2009 inauguration of new U.S. President
Barack Obama.” The inauguration was actually on January 20.
Confusing Chester County, Pennsylvania, with Chester,
Maryland, the print edition of the January/ February 2009 article
“‘First dog’ may be last Obama pick” misidentified actions of the
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture against breeder Linda Brown,
who sold a dog to Vice President Joseph Biden, as actions of the
Maryland Department of Agriculture.
Both errors were corrected in the online edition.